Dear Friends of EastSide,
When FBI director J. Edgar Hoover proclaimed the Black Panther Party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States”, the FBI’s counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) sought to actively undermine, disrupt, discredit and destroy the Panthers and other Black liberation, Third World and progressive organizations. It did not stop at using illegal tactics such as wiretapping, agent provocateurs, false imprisonment, torture and even assassination.
The recent media “outing” of the late Richard Aoki, a former founding member of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense; and Third World Liberation Front (UC Berkeley Third World Strike), as an alleged FBI informant clearly must be understood in this context. The unsubstantiated accusations against Aoki, sourced from the FBI itself, are in line with other current government campaigns, with the willful aid of the mainstream mass media, targeting movement veterans such as the SF 8 (former BPP members), Carlos Montes (former Brown Beret leader), the Anna Mae Aquash trial (American Indian Movement) and several others.
[This would not be the first time Richard Aoki was falsely accused of being an “enemy agent”, as he was just one of over 110,000 Japanese Americans labeled a threat to national security and incarcerated en masse in concentration camps during WWII.]
Since the Patriot Act (2001) was enacted just post 9/11, the Federal government and FBI have vigorously renewed efforts to harass, intimidate and discredit any efforts to organize against U.S. government policies of domestic and international repression and war under the guise of Homeland Security.
With all the recent FBI “house visits” to Arab, South Asian and Filipino activists’ homes and offices, there is an obvious intent to discourage a regeneration of organizing efforts, including the prospect of critical alliances between Asian and Black liberation movements. Our late brother Richard Aoki is too easy a target as a symbol of this connection, but in reality this is not just about Aoki, but about deterring critical alliances in both our past and present movements.
The EastSide Arts Collective